Heroes of the Bible

Building the Temple—David

God prevented King David from building the Temple because he was a warrior and had shed blood. (1 Chronicles 28:2-3).

King David’s name is linked forever with the house of the LORD.

In his most famous Psalm, the 23rd Psalm, David said to the LORD: “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6).

David meant dwelling in the house of the LORD in both this life as well as in the life to come.

He said: “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4).

Later in the same Psalm, David said: “[a]t his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.” (Psalm 27:6).

Nevertheless, David never built a physical Temple. Why?

In his old age, David himself explained the underlying reason that the LORD God prevented him from building the Temple.

“King David rose to his feet and said: ‘Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, “You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.”’” (1 Chronicles 28:2-3).

This rationale for why David couldn’t fulfill his longing to build the Temple seems unfair. With God’s blessing, David spent his life fighting valiantly, starting with his defeat of Goliath and culminating in his establishment of Israel as a unified nation with secure boundaries.

“The LORD gave David victory wherever he went. David ruled over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.” (1 Chronicles 18:13-14).

Nevertheless, the LORD wanted his Temple to be built by a person of peace. Someone who was not a warrior and did not shed blood.

In the short run, this person of peace was David’s son, Solomon. Solomon was not renowned for his skill with a sword. Solomon was renowned for his skill with Wisdom.

In a dream, God told Solomon: “I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (1 Kings 3:12).

God’s promise came true. All Israel “held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.” (1 Kings 3:28).

In the long run, this person of peace is Jesus—a person of peace and wisdom.

A person of Peace who teaches us: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).

A person of Wisdom who teaches us: “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law [of Moses] and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12).

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To learn more about building the Temple, please read my blog “Building the Temple—Moses” and the chapters about David and Solomon in my book “Healing the Promised Land.”